Working in highway construction zones in Pennsylvania is no joke. According to data compiled by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pennsylvania ranked as the third-deadliest state when it came to fatal work-related injuries at a construction site between 2003 and 2017. And highway construction zones are among the most prone to accidents.
What are the Common Dangers of Highway Construction Work Zones?
One of the most common dangers associated with construction work zones involves being struck by vehicles or equipment. In fact, from 2007 to 2011, 60 percent of occupational injuries involved being hit by a vehicle, according to NIOSH. The vast majority involved machinery and automobiles, followed by semi-trucks and dump trucks. And most of those accidents involved vehicles backing up.
Work zone collisions can also involve your equipment or work vehicle being struck by nearby traffic. This can be caused by distracted, drunk, or reckless driving on the part of the other party or a poor response on their part to signage, unexpected detours, uneven roads, debris in the road, or merging when a lane closes. And construction trucks can block your view of oncoming traffic, further increasing the danger to you when there are reckless drivers near your work zone. There may also be times when there simply are not enough flagmen available to direct traffic, or people simply choose to ignore their instructions. When it is not simply your vehicle or equipment that has been struck, but you or someone you love, the situation can turn your life upside down in an instant.
But those are far from the only dangers to be found on a highway construction work site. Operators may have inadequate training, or the equipment may be in poor repair. There are very serious, potentially fatal dangers related to trenches that do not meet safety requirements. Electricity can be a serious issue when the work zone is located adjacent to power lines or when electrical power is needed for lights and equipment. Slip and fall accidents are a potential risk at any type of worksite. And if your employer fails to provide you with proper PPE, the danger of being struck by debris during routine work quickly escalates.
Most highway construction sites involve the use of heavy objects which can cause injury when being lifted as well as when they are lowered. Elevated work surfaces increase the chances of a serious fall and can also lead to heavy items being dropped, knocked, or rolled off the surface and onto unsuspecting individuals below. Finally, a lack of appropriate safety training for the entire crew you’re working with can prove fatal as well.
What Common Injuries Occur at Highway Construction Work Zones?
There are certain injuries that are common on construction sites, with bone fractures being among the most frequent. The severity of a bone fracture can vary from a simple fracture to a complex fracture that may also include bleeding and severe damage to muscles and tendons. Regardless of severity, however, bone fractures are painful, and even the simplest break can lead to issues, such as a limited range of motion, that require physical therapy or even surgery.
Spinal injuries are almost always serious and can lead to paraplegia or quadriplegia. Even seemingly minor injuries to the spine require medical attention, x-rays and other forms of imaging, pain management, and physical therapy. Depending on severity, surgery, extended hospital stays, and physical rehabilitation may be involved. Severe pain and loss of motion can make it impossible for you to work.
Head injuries may be tied in with spinal injuries, and often result from being struck by equipment or falling debris. Head trauma can result from lacerations and bruises, causing serious damage to the brain. Even if a head injury seems minor, it still needs to be checked by a medical professional. Any type of damage to the brain can affect various systems in the body and make it difficult to continue working even years into the future.
How Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation if Injured?
If you are a worker injured in an on-the-job highway construction zone accident, you are eligible to apply for worker’s compensation benefits. If the injury you sustained was the result of a reckless driver or workplace negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit for additional compensation under the law. A wise first step is to speak to an accident and personal injury lawyer who specializes in construction site accidents and workers’ compensation.
Highway construction zones are extremely dangerous, and injuries can range from simple bruises and lacerations to spinal damage that leaves you partially paralyzed. A reckless driver who ignores a warning sign can quickly lead to an accident that causes you serious injury through no fault of your own. Fortunately, the law provides protection for highway construction workers injured on the job in the form of worker’s compensation and personal injury lawsuits.
Contact Sacchetta & Baldino
If you or a loved one was injured on the job in a highway construction zone, the legal team at Sacchetta & Baldino is here to help. We are experienced in cases involving workers’ compensation, construction site accidents, and personal injury lawsuits. Let us put our 30 years’ worth of experience aggressively representing clients to work for you. Contact us today.